Freedom from Hurts, Hang-Ups and Habits by Dr. Phyllis and Rev. Carrol Davis

hang-ups step 12 magazine

Freedom from hurts, hang-ups and habits is not easily achieved. Many people suffer from addictions to gambling, alcohol, drugs, destructive relationships, food, anxiety, worry, perfectionism, procrastination, and the list goes on. Many people join and work a twelve-step program. While these programs are great, freedom still eludes many in the form of relapse.

Underlying issues are usually at the core of relapse. No matter how hard one struggles and adheres to the program; calling their sponsor daily, attending meetings regularly, and working the steps, freedom from bondage is still elusive.

The root cause is what drives people to repeat destructive behavior. Emotions that are “bigger than the event,” are always about our history. The problems and challenges that we face in the here and now usually have their origin in our childhood. The actual event that occurred, or that we perceive occurred, is not the problem. What we believe to be true about ourselves or our situation as a result of the event is the lie that is causing our problems today. Once the belief is established in our unconscious mind, we continue to operate in life as if the belief is true. Example:

A grown man suffers from extreme fear and anxiety related to any separation from loved ones. He knows the feeling is bigger than the event and illogical and yet he can not stop the fear and anxiety by reasoning with himself. To curb the feelings of anxiety, he turns to his drug of choice to eliminate the pain creating another problem. Now the grown man enters AA to deal with his alcoholism because he is unable to stop drinking and now has a biochemical reaction to the substance. He does fine working his program, attending meetings, meeting with his sponsor, and working the steps. He goes for long periods of time with successful sobriety only to relapse whenever he is in a life situation that triggers the separation from a loved one (actual or perceived). Why?

Exploring the underlying issue, we find that the fear and anxiety is actually rooted in a childhood memory of being left at the sitters for extended periods of time. His thoughts connected to the event are “I must have done something wrong and that is why my mommy and daddy left me,” or “Something is wrong with me, I must have made them mad.” The little child was not told that the parents were leaving to attend to his sick brother hospitalized in another town. No one stops to explain to the child what happened. Most children conclude, “It must be my fault.” This lie continues to trouble the now adult mind.

In the example above, the negative event, abandonment, caused negative thoughts, “I must have done something wrong,” which caused negative feelings, fear and anxiety, which caused negative action or reaction, drink alcohol, relapse condition.

Scriptures say to take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. When we learn to take our thoughts captive, we learn to stop negative head talk and replace it with the truth of God’s word and anxiety and fear are replaced with peace.

The truth about yourself and your situation from God’s word produces positive feelings and actions. The next time you have feelings and thoughts that overwhelm you, remind yourself that if the feeling is “bigger than the event” it is always about your history. Take your thoughts captive, find the lie you believe about yourself or your situation and change it to the truth of God’s word.

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